Move Over, Jetsons

January/February 2008
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2008 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 27, 2008
Prefab, manufactured, modular homes. What do these words make you think of? Ultramodern Buckminster Fuller spaceship like dwelling solutions for ultramodern people, and shiny, hard surfaces—a far cry from living in cooperation with nature. Trailer parks even come to mind when I think of modular homes, complete with plastic flamingos and rainbow whirligigs. The first manufactured homes came out in the Gold Rush era in California, when many buildings were needed in a hurry and these were constructed on-site from kits. They provided quick and dirty housing, and architecture was not an issue. Today, “prefab” is gaining a new reputation with not only cutting-edge architecture, but environmentally sustainable designs, from manufacture to end use. The financial upsides of prefab dwellings over site-built are many. The materials savings in the factory are far better for factory-built homes than for site-built. Whereas cutoffs on-site end up in the job site dumpster, cutoffs in the factory can be reused for the next project, and prefab houses can be designed to limit this waste. Since factory-built houses take less time to assemble, less of the land’s mortgage price is spent on the owners not living there. There are ...

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